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What's for Dinner?

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3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  113 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
James Schuyler's utterly original What's for Dinner? features a cast of characters who appear to have escaped from a Norman Rockwell painting to run amok. In tones that are variously droll, deadpan, and lyrical, Schuyler tells a story that revolves around three small-town American households. The Delehanteys are an old-fashioned Catholic family whose twin teenage boys are ...more
Paperback, 211 pages
Published December 22nd 2005 by NYRB Classics (first published 1978)
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David
Oct 28, 2011 David rated it liked it
Shelves: nyrb
Well, it started out promising anyway. Snappy, occasionally insightful, droll—with an ear for the rhythms and interplay of language (and dialogue, in particular) that called to mind Delillo, however approximately. But long about half-way through, I realized this thing was on the fast track to nowhere. It's all well and good to spruce up the language—fluff it like droopy pillows on a sofa—but sometimes you need more than just decoration. What's for Dinner? treads the same suburban dysfunction ter ...more
Eileen
Jul 22, 2014 Eileen rated it really liked it
Now THIS was good. Very sharp dialogue, an unexpected yet somehow mundane plot (not the other way around), a great sense of subdued, dry humor, fast and enjoyable to read while also being well-written, etc.

Here, depression and alcoholism are problems people can actually tackle and work against successfully, frequently through alliances with others who have their own similar bad situations to think about. This sounds off-puttingly inspirational, but it's actually done very well; it's more an und
...more
Matthew
Dec 08, 2015 Matthew rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels-novellas
The question "What's for dinner?" is posed in the first chapter of the novel. Enter Mary Charlotte Taylor ("Lottie" for short) - the perfect wife and housekeeper, for all appearances. But the reader soon learns her embarrassing secret. Her husband, Norris Taylor, asks the titular question "What's for dinner?" The question is posed after Lottie asks: "I wonder what you'll do when I'm gone?" The question is rhetorical. In the context of the first chapter, it is a matter of no consequence what Norr ...more
Joanna
Jul 20, 2014 Joanna rated it really liked it
"Stara gruba Deirdre leżała rozwalona na wiktoriańskim krześle. Łeb oparła na tapicerowanym podłokietniku, z mordy ciekła jej ślina. Obraz doskonałego spełnienia."
Lekki i nielekki obraz amerykańskich przedmieść, ze szczególnym uwzględnieniem uzależnienia od szkockiej, depresji, telenowel, gospodyń w średnim wieku, nudnych romansów i grubych bassetów (cytat wyżej). Polecam szczególnie na niedzielne przedpołudnia, gdy za oknem deszcz.
Ofelia Hunt
Oct 27, 2007 Ofelia Hunt rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who eat things sometimes and don't other times
I'm curious about poets who think they're novelists and novelists who think they're poets so I read this book as an investigation and my research indicates that James Schuyler is a poet and a novelist and this novel is very very good from this subject-position or something.

Most of the text is conversation and it is all simple and perfect and with characters who are people and there are no terribly fake sentences like about the sunset off the river Kwai dappling the eyebrows of super-poetic monst
...more
Michael
Feb 08, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it
The stories of John Cheever, Richard Yates, John O'Hara, Evan S. Connell, et al.: you might think you've read every tale of postwar suburban malaise as you'd prefer to read in this lifetime (not to mention binge-watching Mad Men). But you haven't read poet James Schuyler's What's for Dinner, so it turns out you'll have to make time for one more.

What a beguiling, unassuming, stealthily funny little masterpiece this book is. Rescued from obscurity by NYRB Classics, this novel follows every convent
...more
Jesse Kraai
Aug 10, 2016 Jesse Kraai rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1970s
I only finished this book because it was kind of short and a NYRB selection. Like a lot of NYRB books it's trying for theory rather than story. We are looking down on the characters, trying to say something larger than them. No character is developed and the scene is static. We're supposed to jack off in front of an immobile picture of suburban American life.
Elizabeth
Jun 17, 2016 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Impressionistic and enjoyable, this short novel felt a bit like a lighter take on Yates' Revolutionary Road. The characters interactions and reactions managed to feel real, yet the book successfully retained a certain degree of gloss that gave it the sort of Mad Men-era style it captures.
Apoorva
Jul 28, 2008 Apoorva rated it liked it
i read the entire book over one beach day this weekend. to be blunt, my life hasn't changed one bit after reading it. It has its moments, to be sure, and there are clever characterizations and dialogue, but it was like reading a long and not very eventful play. I imagine the book was quite original for its time, but it's a pleasant read now, with no dramatic insights.
Carolyn
Dec 14, 2012 Carolyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This wonderful novel could be shelved with drama because it is almost entirely dialog that conjures a whole life just as it happens in a play. Scenes take place most often at the dinner table, the group therapy table, in bed; and swim along rapidly on waves of light but pointed exchanges between clearly drawn characters. Really a delight.
Nancy Dardarian
Jan 20, 2014 Nancy Dardarian rated it really liked it
Really a hoot. loved it.
Jim
Jun 07, 2008 Jim rated it really liked it
If you described the plot of the book to me (white suburban yuppies gradually realize that their lives are awful) and then told me to read it, I would probably tell you to go jump in a lake. Thankfully, Schuyler has a knack for funny, often disarming dialogue, so no lakes are needed here. Schuyler's poetry is also fantastic.
Wesley
Aug 07, 2012 Wesley added it
Shelves: i-quit
i'm forgoing a rating, as my inability to finish was not schuyler but the rampant typos in the first hundred pages. ever a stickler, despite the humorous and lascivious underpinnings i usually go in for, i had to call it a day.
Becky
Jul 30, 2010 Becky rated it it was amazing
Always interesting to see what happens when a gifted poet turns to prose. This is another NYRB find. Cheeveresque. Laughed out loud a few times.
Beth
Jul 23, 2015 Beth rated it really liked it
Surprisingly fresh and modern for something written in the '70's, with great dialogue.
Matt Walker
Aug 10, 2012 Matt Walker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
So charming. Don't let too much more time go by in your life without having read this.
Stephen
Mar 23, 2012 Stephen rated it really liked it
I'd be willing to bet a modest sum that DFW really loved this book.
Holly
Jun 08, 2009 Holly rated it did not like it
Already surprising...
Brian
Dec 31, 2007 Brian rated it it was amazing
wicked and wickedly funny
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NYRB Classics: What's for Dinner?, by James Schuyler 1 5 Oct 30, 2013 10:24PM  
  • The Unpossessed
  • The Pumpkin Eater
  • The Mountain Lion
  • After Claude
  • Cassandra at the Wedding
  • Ride a Cockhorse
  • Mr. Fortune's Maggot; and, The Salutation
  • Short Letter, Long Farewell
  • A Meaningful Life
  • Great Granny Webster
  • Blood on the Forge
  • Fatale
  • The Widow
  • Sheppard Lee, Written by Himself
  • The Jokers
  • The World as I Found It
  • The Colour Out of Space: Tales of Cosmic Horror by Lovecraft, Blackwood, Machen, Poe, and Other Masters of the Weird
  • Clark Gifford's Body

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